“In Defense of the Randomized Controlled Trial…” Summary and Reaction
The article by Rosen et al. is a reaction to the increased criticism of randomized controlled trials (RCT) from the scientific community outside of the medical field. The growth in criticism of this type of intervention was associated with the increased attention to contemporary health promotion in the early 00s (Rosen et al., 2006). The authors of the article provide an overview of the criticism of RCT, eight counterarguments, an assessment of alternative methodologies, and possible negative implications of avoiding RCT.
The World Health Organization and the International Union for Health Promotion put forward eight major arguments against RCT in current health promotion. They argue that the application of RCT in this area is unfair, narrowly focused, non-practical, inappropriate, individual-oriented, too rigid, too costly, and has no external validity (Rosen et al., 2006). Rosen et al. successfully refute each of these claims. It is worth noting that researchers demonstrate significant knowledge and cite a variety of scientific sources.
Writers also evaluate alternative research methods that are popular with the majority of the health promotion scientific community. Rosen et al. criticize the before-and-after study, quasi-experimentation, and triangulation in this section (Rosen et al., 2006). The main message here is that lack of rigor in research leads to misleading results, which result in useless and even harmful practices (Rosen et al., 2006). The authors reiterate that RCT is the most accurate and well-established tool in a health promotion study.
Reaction to the Article
The article by Rosen et al. is a prime example of logical, reasoned, and consistent criticism. I believe that the authors have successfully debunked unfounded claims that RCT is invalid in health promotion studies. According to Rosen et al. (2006), “nonrigorous evaluation can lead to misleading results” (p. 1185). I also agree with this statement regarding RCT. Non-medical health promotion professionals should focus on understanding and adapting methodologies instead of criticizing them in a biased manner.
Rosen, L., Manor, O., Engelhard, D., & Zucker, D. (2006). In defense of the randomized controlled trial for health promotion research. American Journal of Public Health, 96(7), 1181-1186.